It is summer and Johannesburg is sweltering these days, despite the heat, I made an effort to catch up with various friends over the weekend and realising how lucky I am to have them in my life. Thus, to end off a great weekend, I invited some friends for dinner, but essentially they were my guinea pigs as I test my new cast-iron casserole cookware! Yes, I am a proud owner of cast-iron cookware and plan to expand the collection.
Lamb shank has always been a firm favourite when dining out, but I decided to make a bold step and get familiar with the protein. Opposed to making a traditional rosemary lamb shank over mash, I opted for a Moroccan Lamb Shank Casserole; the ultimate Middle Eastern comfort food paired with couscous. To lighten the meal, we made cool salad of cucumber, tomatoes, avocados, onions and pineapples.The beauty of this dish is it allows you to pair it with any starch you prefer, so don't be afraid to experiment.
Thank goodness it came out a success and delicious too! Now I am at peace knowing that my friends will stick around for longer and giving them a reason to travel with me to Morocco; anyone keen to join?
1Tbsp Avocado Oil
4 medium Lamb Shanks
1 can Chickpeas, drained
2 medium Red Onions
1 Fresh Tomato, chopped
1can Whole Peeled Tomatoes
2tsp Ground Cumin
2tsp Ground Coriander
1tsp Freshly ground black pepper
3 Fresh Green Chillies
1tsp Ginger, finely chopped
1tsp Garlic, finely chopped
5 medium Carrots, chopped
1 cube Chicken Stock (any to preference)
140g Dried fruit Apricots
2 sticks Cinnamon
Fresh Coriander to serve
Salt to taste
The recipe requires 1 cast iron casserole pot, a 28cm will fit in the 4 shanks perfectly. You will be using a stovetop and the oven to make the dish.
Mix the spices together - cumin, coriander, paprika, pepper, chillies, garlic and ginger. (I used a mini-food processor to finely chop the ginger and garlic, which speeds up the mixing time.)
Heat the oil in the casserole pot on medium-high heat and brown the lamb shanks. Ensure the lamb is seared on all surfaces, as this will retain the juicy moisture of the meat.
Put aside the lamb shanks. Using the same oil, equivalent to 1 tablespoon, saute the onions for 8 - 10 minutes until soft.
Add ½ step one spice mixture and cook for 2 minutes with the onions.
Add in fresh tomato and canned tomato, cook for 5 minutes to infuse the flavours.
Preheat the oven to 150°C.
Place the lamb on top of the mixture and add chickpeas; further add water to just cover the lamb.
Add a cube of chicken stock (or homemade is even better) and bring the water to boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
Once the lamb has simmered, place the casserole into the oven with the lid covered. Oven bake for 2 hours.
Take the casserole out and mix in the remaining ingredients - remaining spice mixture, honey, apricots, cinnamon, carrots and salt to your preference.
Place the casserole back into the oven and cook for another 45 minutes to 1 hour. This is dependent on how soft you like the lamb and carrots.
Once done, sprinkle chopped fresh coriander over the dish to serve.
Couscous tip: Do not cook the couscous over the stove. Place the couscous in a bowl, pour hot water into the bowl with a 1:1 ratio of couscous and water respectively. Cling wrap the bowl for 5 mins and your couscous is ready to serve.